Details emerge at Steinheimer’s preliminary hearing

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Crystal Steinheimer, 20, of Red Bud, made her first court appearance Thursday since her June 4 arraignment on felony charges of aggravated DUI and reckless homicide for a Jan. 10 crash that killed Abby Liefer and Hannah Porter on Route 159 south of Hecker. She previously pleaded not guilty.

The preliminary hearing at the Monroe County Courthouse to determine probable cause included a summary of evidence collected so far in the case, presented by Illinois State Police Trooper Nick Hopkins.

Blood alcohol content tests taken on both drivers involved in the head-on crash, Steinheimer and Liefer, the night of the crash supported the charge of DUI against Steinheimer.

“During the (medical) flight with Crystal, the nurse was able to smell alcohol on her breath and Crystal admitted to drinking,” Trooper Nick Hopkins testified.

Tests taken at Saint Louis University Hospital when Steinheimer arrived indicated a BAC of .179, more than twice the legal limit of .08

Liefer, 20, who was also airlifted to SLU Hospital but died there of her injuries, was tested as well.

Hopkins said at the hearing that although troopers found cans of beer in Liefer’s vehicle, neither she nor Porter had any alcohol or drugs in their systems.

According to the charges, Steinheimer, who is represented by public defender Arlie Traughber, was intoxicated the night of Jan. 10, and at 10:34 p.m., the car she was driving, a Chevrolet Aveo, crossed the center line of Route 159 near Sunset Lane, colliding with the Chevrolet Cobalt driven by Liefer. That area of the highway lies on a curve and is a no passing zone, Hopkins said.

Liefer and Porter, a back seat passenger, were killed in the crash. Front seat passenger Grace Richards suffered only minor injuries.

Steinheimer, who was alone in her vehicle, was seriously injured.

Judge Dennis Doyle determined sufficient evidence exists to support the charges of aggravated DUI and reckless homicide against Steinheimer. She remains free on a recognizance bond as she awaits trial.

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